Wednesday's Cover of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo
Zineb El Rhazoui, a surviving columnist at Charlie Hebdo magazine who worked on the new issue, said the cover was a call to forgive the terrorists who murdered her colleagues last week, saying she did not feel hate towards Chérif and Saïd Kouachi despite their deadly attack on the magazine, and urged Muslims to accept humour.
“We don’t feel any hate to them. We know that the struggle is not with them as people, but the struggle is with an ideology,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
The two gunmen who launched the attack on the magazine’s offices last Wednesday killed five of France’s top cartoonists, saying that they wanted to avenge the prophet for Charlie Hebdo’s satire of him. The grieving journalists who survived the murderous assault promised it would be business as usual at the weekly publication.
A record 3million copies are to be printed, in 16 languages, after the massacre triggered a worldwide debate on free speech and brought more than 4 million people on to the streets of France in a unity march on Sunday. The eight-page edition went to the presses on Monday night, according to Libération, the newspaper that offered Charlie Hebdo staff temporary working space following the attack.
The cover cartoon was drawn by the weekly’s cartoonist Luz, who survived the massacre because he was late arriving at the office. The prophet has been a frequent target of Charlie Hebdo, whose editor, Stéphane Charbonnier, was undeterred by death threats for depicting his visual image in a manner certain to offend many Muslims. Devout Muslims regard any depictions of Muhammad, or other prophets including Moses or Abraham, as heresy.
Newspapers around Europe, including Libération, Le Monde and Frankfurter Allgemeine, have used the image online. The BBC showed it briefly during a newspaper review on Newsnight. In the US, the Washington Post, USA Today, LA Times, Wall Street Journal, The Daily Beast and CBS News ran the cover but the New York Times did not. In Australia, the ABC showed the image of the cartoon on its 24-hour rolling news programme but with a warning to viewers. The Guardian is running this cover as its news value warrants publication.
Asked to explain the magazine’s front cover, which features a cartoon of a crying Muhammad wearing a “Je suis Charlie” badge under the heading “All is forgiven”, Rhazoui said: “We feel that we have to forgive what happened. I think those who have been killed, if they would have been able to have a coffee today with the terrorists and just talk to ask them why have they done this … We feel at the Charlie Hebdo team that we need to forgive.”
She added: “The two terrorists who killed our colleagues, we cannot feel any hate … The mobilization that happened in France after this horrible crime must open the door to forgiveness. Everyone must think about this forgiveness.”
Her comments come after fresh condemnation of the Charlie Hebdo magazine by Muslim leaders over the magazine’s new cover.
Omer el-Hamdoon, president of the Muslim Association of Britain, said: “My reaction to the cartoon is disgust, but tending more to annoyance as well because I feel that what’s happening here is not that different from what we witnessed back in 2005 with the Danish cartoons when media outlets went into a cycle of just publishing the cartoons just to show defiance. And what that caused is more offence.”
Speaking on Today, he said causing offence “just for the purpose of offending” was not freedom of speech.
Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan said the latest cartoon had added more salt to the wound.
He said: “If the cartoon had read ‘Je suis Ahmed’, given that many were carrying that badge after the police Ahmed Merabet who was killed, might not have put more salt to the wound but taken it to another level.”
Rhazoui said Muslims could ignore the magazine if they took offence.
She said: “I would tell them it is a drawing and they are not obliged to buy this edition of Charlie Hebdo if they don’t appreciate our work. We are only doing our job, we don’t violate the law.”
She added: “Our friends died because of small drawings, because of a joke, but what happen to us was not a joke. Muslims must understand that we in Charlie Hebdo just consider Islam as a normal religion just like any other religion in France. Islam must accept to be treated like all the other religions in this country. And they must accept humour also.”
Former French prime minister François Fillon, speaking on Tuesday on France Inter, said he thought the front cover of Charlie Hebdo was “magnificent” and it carried the message of compassion given by all regions.
“I have always defended Charlie Hebdo. There can be no debate on freedom of expression, never,” he said.
Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, told the Today program that Charlie Hebdo had no choice but to print the cover it had.
“You cannot have a march through the streets of Paris attended by 46 world leaders, 4 million people, climaxing with a shout of ‘We are not afraid’ and then not print the central object of contention,” he said. “Of course they are right to do that and I am afraid it is absolutely vital now that everybody stands up and defends their right to publish. You may not agree with what they have done, you may be offended by what they have done, but you should defend their right to publish it.”
Thanx to the Guardian
Hear, hear! Mr Mayor. Naturally we should respect the religious beliefs of other people. But the religious taboos that govern them do not govern the people outside of their religion and they should consider that fact before they massacre innocent folks. I feel the cartoon was not meant to be offensive to the Muslim population at large...just a little humorous nudge to the radicals. I guess radicals and terrorists have no sense of humor. The principle at stake is the freedom to publish it. 'Je suis Charlie'.
Reaction in Pakistan